This healthy broccoli casserole recipe is perfect for an easy vegetable side dish for a weeknight dinner, or for a family holiday gathering like Easter! It’s keto, Paleo, dairy free, Whole30 and vegetarian, so everyone can enjoy. It can be made with fresh broccoli, or is a great way to use frozen broccoli! The dairy free cheese sauce is quick to make, creamy and delicious!
Healthy Broccoli Casserole Ingredients
This recipe doesn’t require very many ingredients, which makes it really quick and easy to prepare, and helps it fit into keto, paleo, dairy free and vegetarian templates! For the base of the casserole, you can use fresh or frozen broccoli. Make sure to use the stems of the broccoli stalks if you use fresh.
I do prefer frozen broccoli because when baked with the cheese sauce it has the crunch that to me tastes like the traditional broccoli casserole. You will also need minced garlic, parsley, yellow onion and olive oil for the healthy broccoli casserole base.
Ingredients in the Dairy Free Cheese Sauce
The cheesy sauce that will be made for the broccoli casserole is so easy to whip together and relies mostly on pantry items that are standard for a gluten free or dairy free cheese sauce. You will need 1 can of full fat coconut cream, an egg, raw cashews, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and nutritional yeast.
A few spices will also get combined in the sauce, and those include salt, pepper, parsley, paprika and onion powder.
All of the ingredients that make up the broccoli casserole and the cheese sauce are easy to find at major grocery stores, or online from retailers like Amazon or Thrive Market. For shopping lists containing ideas of what Whole30, paleo and keto items are available in stores, check out our guides to Target, Walmart, Fresh Thyme and Trader Joe’s.
Prepping and Cooking Healthy Broccoli Casserole
To start cooking your keto broccoli casserole, begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F. Then in a skillet over medium-high heat, you’ll add the garlic, onion and Primal Kitchen Olive Oil. Begin sautéing the onions and garlic.
While the diced onion is sautéing, add your broccoli into a 9×13 casserole dish. The onion and garlic will only take about 4-5 minutes to become soft and translucent. Once that happens, pour them into the casserole dish over the broccoli.
How to easily make the cheese sauce
The next step is to make the healthy, dairy free cheese sauce. This cheese sauce comes out rich, creamy and smooth. You cannot taste the coconut milk after everything is blended together, and the flavors from the nutritional yeast and spices cover it up!
There are two ways you can make the cheese sauce for your paleo and keto broccoli casserole. You can use an immersion blender or a regular blender. The immersion blender is usually quicker, and results in less big dishes to wash, but either one works.
With an immersion blender:
To make the sauce with an immersion blender, first add all of the sauce ingredients except for the egg into a container you can use for blending. Put the stick blender in and and blend for 2-3 minutes until the cashews are completely blended and the sauce is smooth. Then, add in the egg and blend for 15-20 seconds, just until blended. Do not blend too long and avoid the sauce getting frothy.
Once your sauce is made, pour it into the casserole dish over the broccoli and onions. Use a spatula or spoon to mix the sauce into the broccoli and coat all of the broccoli really well. The sauce should be mixed in so that it’s evenly dispersed in the casserole dish.
You can top the broccoli casserole with a bit of dried or fresh chopped Italian parsley prior to baking if you’d like. Then, place the casserole dish into the prepared oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 hour.
After the 1 hour is up, check the casserole. You may need to bake it for 15 more minutes if the middle of the casserole isn’t set and still looks a bit watery. This happens more frequently when using frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli. The casserole is done when the entire top is a beautiful, cheesy looking golden brown.
Serving and Storing Broccoli Casserole
Once the casserole is done, remove it from the oven let it set for about 5 minutes. Garnish it with additional fresh parsley if desired. Then you can serve it as a healthy vegetable side dish alongside your protein if you’re using this for a family dinner or weeknight dinner.
Making this healthy broccoli casserole for Easter or a holiday? Pair it with these holiday recipes:
- Whole30 Holiday Ham
- Cherry Tomato & Feta Couscous Salad
- Best Whole30 Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
- Whole30/DF Scalloped Potatoes
- Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts
To store, let the casserole cool completely first. Then you can transfer it into an air tight container with a lid and place it in the refrigerator. Or, you can portion it out into individual meal prep containers for lunches, paired with a protein of your choice, such as grilled or roasted chicken breasts.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is using fresh or frozen broccoli better to use in a casserole?
Substituting fresh broccoli in broccoli casserole is just fine. It is a 1:1 swap when using fresh versus frozen broccoli. When using fresh broccoli, you will want to make sure to use the entire stalk. Once chopping off the florets, peel the stalk with a vegetable peeler and chop into bite sized pieces.
Do you need to thaw frozen broccoli before using it?
No, you do not need to thaw frozen broccoli before using it in broccoli casserole. Simply add the frozen broccoli, mix it with the cheese sauce and bake it in the oven.
Do you have to cook broccoli first before putting it in the casserole?
You do not need to cook frozen or fresh broccoli before putting it into the casserole. It is okay to blanch fresh broccoli in a pot of boiling water prior to adding it into the casserole dish if you wanted to, but it isn’t necessary.
What toppings can be added to healthy broccoli casseroles?
If you’re not keeping this broccoli casserole Whole30, you can top your broccoli casserole with breadcrumbs, crushed ritz crackers, gluten free breadcrumbs or gluten free options like crushed pork rinds before baking.
Can broccoli casserole be frozen?
Yes. You can freeze this broccoli casserole before baking. However, I wouldn’t freeze it after baking because the keto, Whole30 and paleo cheese sauce uses canned coconut cream. This has a tendency to separate when frozen and after it’s been baked, frozen and reheated, it can result in the texture of the cheese sauce not being smooth anymore.
How long does cooked broccoli casserole last in the fridge?
Cooked broccoli casserole is good in the refrigerator for up to 4 days when stored in an airtight container with a lid or meal prep containers.
How long does uncooked broccoli casserole last in the fridge if prepared ahead of time?
You can absolutely prepare this healthy broccoli casserole ahead of time! This casserole can be made up to two days prior to when you’ll be cooking it. It’s a smart way to save time if you’re cooking holiday dishes and want to get the prepping done the day before, or even if you wanted to drop it off to a friend, new mom or someone who just had surgery.
How to reheat leftover broccoli casserole?
You can reheat individual portions of the casserole in the microwave, or the entire casserole in the oven. To reheat it from the casserole dish, bake it for 25-30 minutes (or until heated thoroughly) on 350 degrees F.
Other Healthy Broccoli Recipes You’ll Love:
- Ground Beef and Broccoli Skillet
- Lemon Chicken Skillet with Broccoli
- Instant Pot Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry
- Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli
- 28 ounces to 32 ounces frozen broccoli
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1.5 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the dairy free cheese sauce:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and add the broccoli into a 9×13 casserole dish
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the diced onion, garlic and olive oil and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the onions to the casserole dish with the broccoli
- Add all of the sauce ingredients except for the egg into a container you can use for mixing with an immersion blender or into your blender. Blend for 3-4 minutes, or until the cashews are completely blended and the sauce is creamy and smooth
- Add the egg into the sauce and blend for about 15 seconds, just until combined. Do not over mix it into the sauce
- Pour the sauce into the casserole dish with the broccoli and onions and stir it in so the broccoli is completely coated and the sauce is evenly distributed in the casserole dish
- Bake for 1 hour, uncovered, or until the top of the broccoli casserole doesn’t have any excess liquid sitting in the middle. You may need to cook an additional 15 minutes, which happens most often when using frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli. The casserole is done and fully cooked when the top is a cheesy golden brown color
- Remove from the oven, garnish with any additional parsley and let sit for 5 minutes before serving
- Fresh broccoli can be used in place of frozen broccoli
- For Whole30, paleo and keto broccoli casserole, make sure you’re using a dijon mustard without added sugar
- See post for ways to add a healthy topping to your broccoli casserole
- This healthy broccoli casserole can be prepared up to 2 days prior to cooking and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake
Keywords: healthy broccoli casserole, keto broccoli casserole, paleo broccoli casserole, whole30 broccoli casserole, whole30 side dish
This healthy broccoli casserole recipe may contain some links that are affiliate links, though products are ones I use personally and recommend. When you purchase anything using my links, it costs you absolutely nothing extra, but it does give wholekitchensink.com a little financial support which helps to keep this blog running. Thank you for your continued support, both with your dollars and your interest.